Investigations Blog

Q&A: The Order of the Units

Question: Can the Investigations units be taught in a different order than suggested? Answer: The first edition of Investigations was written as a “replacement unit” model where individual units within a grade were somewhat less dependent on previous units, and schools and districts often chose their own sequence, or decided to teach only 3 or 4 units the first year of implementation. That was the 1990s! The units in the 2nd and 3rd editions were written as a complete, coherent, full-year...

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The Bad Rep of Word Problems: “Two trains leave the station…”

When people want to make a joke about how difficult, convoluted, or inaccessible word problems are, they often cite some version of the “two trains” problem. You can see an example of this problem here: Maybe you want to try solving this problem yourself before reading on. (Maybe not!) The “two trains” problem has become an emblem in popular culture. Saying the opening phrase, “Two trains leave different stations at the same time …,” invariably results in uncomfortable laughter. It surfaces...

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Q&A: Mathematical Vocabulary in Investigations 3

Question: How does Investigations approach the teaching and learning of mathematical vocabulary? Answer: In Investigations 3, mathematical vocabulary is introduced as a natural part of the conversation during activities and discussions, along-side students’ own words. Rather than memorizing the definitions of new terms, students come to understand such words as factor or area or symmetry as they investigate and discuss new concepts. Hearing new mathematical terms used regularly, and having...

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Words of Wisdom: Lessons from Year 1

We often talk to and hear from teachers, coaches, and administrators who are just beginning their work with the Investigations curriculum. Taking on a new curriculum is challenging work even if you have taught a previous edition; while the content may be familiar, teachers have never taught these particular lessons, in this particular order before. They must read and prepare anew, for a whole school year. People in this situation often ask us, what advice do you have about the first year of...

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Getting Started: What’s Critical at the Beginning of the Year? Part 2

We recently asked a group of experienced Investigations teachers the following question: How do you think about creating a math community? What’s critical, particularly at the beginning of the year? In Part 1, we shared their thoughts about setting up the classroom, organizing the math materials, and establishing and maintaining norms. Here, we share their thoughts about Math Workshop and discussions – two structures they cited as critical to a successful and productive math learning...

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Getting Started: What’s Critical at the Beginning of the Year? Part 1

In our summer work with teachers, many of whom are new to Investigations and/or are rethinking the way they teach mathematics, we get lots of questions. Some come up after reading about a structure like Math Workshop, or seeing a list of materials needed for Unit 1. Others arise after “visiting” a classroom – via a Dialogue Box or video of a classroom. For example: How did students learn to discuss math ideas, and listen to each other, like that? Pairs were working independently, all over the...

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Announcing an Online Community!

We are excited to announce the launch of the Investigations Online Community! This community will include a forum for each grade level and one for K-5 topics. Each will be moderated by a member of the Investigations Center for Curriculum and Professional Development. Our vision for this community is that it will connect Investigations users and create a space for teachers, coaches, and administrators to share ideas, pose questions, and discuss issues related to Investigations and to the...

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Counting is More than 1, 2, 3: Engaging Adults in K-2 Mathematics

How do we engage adult learners in the seemingly simple yet complex mathematical ideas of the primary grades?  While teachers can examine the mathematical focus of K-2 tasks, and think about what they might look for as they observe, what questions they might ask to assess understanding, or consider how they might support or extend the targeted math ideas, playing Counters in a Cup or solving a How Many of Each? problem is not exactly an engaging math task for adults. A few weeks ago, I...

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The Power of Discussion Forums for Online Professional Development

My colleague, Arusha Hollister, and I facilitate the Implementing Investigations 3 (II3) online course. Working with Arusha and the many teachers, math coaches, and administrators who have participated in the course has been a truly meaningful learning experience for me—one that has pushed my thinking about how to best support professional development experiences online, particularly through the use of discussion forums. The II3 course discussion forum, which essentially functions as an online...

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What Does It Mean to Go Deeper?

Over the past year I have had a number of opportunities to work with teachers who have been using Investigations for many years but are new to Investigations 3. Keith’s blog about “the size of the chairs” and respecting “the knowledge and experiences brought to the learning situation” struck a chord with me. It doesn’t matter the age of the learners, my beliefs about how people learn best is the same. I am, however, thinking a lot about the best way to facilitate professional development with...

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